Monday, July 31, 2017

One little, two little, three little hymnals. Four little, five little, six little hymnals...

My friend Snowbrush out in Oregon noticed the new header on my blog and left a comment that began, "Maybe your church is ready for a new edition of its hymnal."

It made me chuckle. Actually, there have been several editions of the Methodist Hymnal since that particular one was published. More about that later in this post.

Snowbrush also said, "I left my last comment while listening to "With Heart and Voice," which is a weekly program of religious music. Its original presenter was an Englishman named Richard Gladwell (sad to say, but the current presenter is not his equal) who served on a bomber during WWII, but ended up living in the U.S. Though Gladwell was an Episcopalian, he received the Benemerenti medal from the pope."

Having never heard of the Benemerenti medal, my naturally inquisitive self ("Curiosity killed the cat" according to my mother, but my wife adds, "Finding out brought it back") had to learn more. I learned that Benemerenti means "well-deserved" in Latin and the medal has been awarded many times by many popes since its creation nearly 200 years ago. The current version looks like this:

The design of the medal does change from time to time. Here's what it looked like in 1984. This particular medal is on display in the Cork Public Museum in Ireland:

(Photograph by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, used in accordance with the terms of CC BY-SA 3.0)

"While studying your new blog format," Snowbrush continued, "I noticed that the book in the photo is a very old Methodist hymnal, and I was rather hoping that you would say more about it. I was also wondering if any of the old Methodist hymns have since been "cleaned up" in terms of gender references (one of the most appalling instances that I've heard was changing "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" to "Parent, Child, and Holy Spirit")."

The Methodist Hymnal up at the top of the blog (here's a smaller photo for those of you who don't scroll) was given to me by Mrs. Joan M., who found it among her mother’s things after her mother died two or three years ago. It is quite small and contains lyrics only, no musical notes. And lest you think I placed a very large cup next to a normal-sized book, here is the book next to my very wrinkly hand to give you some perspective:

This book is the oldest item in my home. I have a maple rocking chair my mother bought me when I was four (1945), a torchiere-style floor lamp from my wife's mother's living room (circa 1940), and my maternal grandmother's triple-strand of pearls that she wore at her wedding (1897), but the title page of the little book of Methodist Hymns indicates a publication date of 1845:

Snowbrush added, "I own several hymnals (Episcopal, Church of Christ, and Southern Baptist--the latter arrived by way of Peggy who, as you might recall, grew up in an observant Southern Baptist household), some of them old. I also have various Episcopal prayer books, some of which are SO old that they contain references to debtors' prisons, and have prayers for prisoners who were about to be hung."

As it happens, I own several hymnals also. On either side of my computer monitor and keyboard is a six-foot-tall bookshelf with five shelves each (let's see, five shelves times two bookcases, that's, er, um, carry the four, divide by seven, that's ten shelves in all) that I put together with my own two hands, ten shelves of books in our bedroom sitting area, and the highest shelf in the left side bookcase contains these:

I was going to add that Methodist Hymnals traditionally begin with Charles Wesley's, "O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing My Great Redeemer's Praise" (the 1845 version does) but a quick check of the dark blue one on that shelf burst my bubble. It is from the 1930s and begins with "Holy! Holy! Holy!" -- so much for supposed traditions.

Snowbrush's comment ended with a request: "I usually listen to religious music on Sunday morning, but my private collection isn't great, so I'm wondering if you could offer some suggestions, preferably something newer than Bach but (ideally, though not necessarily) a bit older than the Fanny Crosby era. I prefer music that includes singing."

That is a hard one. I was going to suggest several Charles Wesley hymns, but his lifespan overlaps Bach's. So does Isaac Watts's. So does George Frederic Handel's. There are many, many hymns from the mid-to-late nineteenth century, but that's Fanny Crosby's era. What to do? What to do?

I am recommending that Snowbrush and everybody else listen to the oratorio Elijah by Felix Mendelssohn. There are some wonderful selections in it including "If With All Your Hearts Ye Truly Seek Me" and "O Rest In The Lord, Wait Patiently For Him" and "Then Shall The Righteous Shine Forth As The Sun In Their Heavenly Father's Realm" and -- my favorite -- the gorgeous choral number "He Watching Over Israel Slumbers Not Nor Sleeps."

Here's the first one (3:18), and you should look for the others on Youtube yourself.

I'm grateful to Snowbrush for inspiring this post. I need all the help I can get.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

My hero

My preceding post included a photo of Ryan Seacrest, a graduate of Dunwoody High School in Atlanta who became a radio personality, television host, and producer. He gained celebrity for his associations with American Idol, Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, E! Live, and most recently as co-host of Live With Kelly and Ryan. He is, I guess, a pop culture icon. I say guess because pop culture is not my area of expertise.

I also mentioned that my heart surgeon looks younger than Ryan Seacrest.

Kylie, a new reader of this blog who lives in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, left the following comment: "What i want to know about your surgeon is not if he looks younger than Ryan Seacrest but does he look as good?"

I certainly am not the one to ask. I have no idea. I know of no authoritative scale by which the attractiveness to females of one male over another can be measured. I suppose -- write this down -- that beauty or handsomeness is in the eye of the beholder.

So here, for Kylie and anybody else who might be wondering the same thing, is my hero, The Man Who Put The Stents In My Coronary Arteries:

You tell me!

For the record, Ryan Seacrest is 42 (in yesterday's photo from 2013 he was 39) and my doctor, according to his bio at the hospital, is 48.

Friday, July 14, 2017

It's all over but the shouting

I'm back at home from my adventures in angioplasty, which felt more like MY ADVENTURES IN A*N*G*I*O*P*L*A*S*T*Y!!! (with sincere apologies to Hyman Kaplan).

I spent two days in hospital with some very nice people that I hope I never need to see again, including an amazing cardiac surgeon who looked all of twenty years old but must have been about fifty. Just a kid*.

I came home Thursday afternoon with five stents in my coronary arteries that weren't there when I left on Wednesday morning.

It certainly isn't all about me, me, me but if you look closely you will find that the first three paragraphs of this post still managed to sneak in the personal pronoun eight times.

How thoroughly self-centered of them.

All things either having returned to more or less normal or having been significantly altered forever, depending on how you look at it, the period of recovery and rehabilitation now begins.

If you want to know more about angioplasty, click here.

Until next time, Seacrest out.

(Photo by Glenn Francis, 2013, used in accordance with the terms of GFDL)

*Ryan Seacrest, pictured above at age 39 in 2013, looks older than my cardiac surgeon. There's that darned personal pronoun again.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Remembrance of things recently past: Graduation 2017

We traveled to Alabama to attend the high-school graduation of our oldest grandson there (not our oldest grandson of all, but our oldest grandson there).

Here are a few scenes of that day for posterity my vast reading audience's personal perusal and pleasure (alliteration lessons available for a small fee):

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Turn around and the year is already half over, or time flies even when you're not having fun

The May-June-July Follies have been rather eventful this year even though your correspondent has been blogging less. In this post I will confine myself to the local follies scene as international follies are in a class by themselves and cannot be explained adequately by anyone.

Number Four Grandchild graduated from high school with honors, fifth in his class of nearly two hundred. Come fall we will have four grandchildren attending four different colleges in three different states, with two more grandchildren close behind.

All our chickies were gone at one point. Number One Son's bunch went to Michigan, where, among other activities, they saw three of the five Great Lakes and crossed from the Lower Peninsula to the Upper Peninsula on a very big bridge. Number Two Son's bunch went to Guatemala where, among other activities, they climbed to the top of a volcano and narrowly avoided being affected by an earthquake. Only Daughter's bunch went to Baltimore, Maryland, where, among other activities, they rode in a water taxi from the Inner Harbor to Fort McHenry, the site of the battle with the British in 1814 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that became our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The old folks, a.k.a. Mom and Dad, a.k.a. Nana and Grandpa, stayed home. They did not go to market, have roast beef, cry "Wee, wee, wee" all the way home, pass GO, or collect $200. Nevertheless, their time was not uneventful.

Dad/Grandpa had adventures of his own. A semi-annual cardiologist appointment revealed that it was time for another stress test, it having been four or five years since the last one occurred. Your correspondent allowed as how he didn't care if he never saw another treadmill. The cardiologist pointed out that there are nuclear stress tests now that involve having a radioactive isotope injected into one's veins to speed up one's heart rate in lieu of the aforementioned treadmill and then one's being surrounded by an MRI-like machine for a few minutes, during which time a geiger counter-like apparatus checks out one's heart. One protested feebly but ultimately agreed to such a procedure.

One got home from this procedure to discover that a medication, isosorbide mononitrate (Imdur, a vaso dilator), had been called in to one's pharmacy. One was a bit alarmed, as one's newest buddy in the medical field, an ophthalmologist in the next county, has been injecting bevacizumab (Avastin) in one's right eye monthly since March, the purpose of which is to shrink, not expand, the blood vessels in one's eye as a treatment for what is called "wet" macular degeneration. It seemed to one (moi) that the Imdur and the Avastin might work at odds to one another.

Subsequently a heart catheterization (British, catheterisation) was recommended and your brave correspondent reluctantly agreed to be subjected to this barbaric procedure also. They didn't like what they found. One was informed that the large artery that enters the heart at the bottom is 80 to 90 per cent blocked, plus there are several smaller blockages that require insertion of "three or four" (forsooth) stents, and heavy blood thinners will be necessary for at least a year.

The heart guy stopped the presses at this point until he could confer with the eye guy. Said conference has now been completed and the verdict is that everything is just hunky-dory for the stent insertions to proceed. I am now waiting to hear from the heart guy's office as to when to report for duty the resumption of the interrupted procedure.

Wish me well. It seems Number One Son's bunch are not the only ones in the family crossing a big bridge.

(Photo by Justin Billau, used in accordance with CC-BY-2.0)

Crossing a big bridge and narrowly avoiding being affected by an earthquake have a lot in common. In light of this astounding revelation, please rise for the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Can I tie everything up in a neat bow, or what?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Say whaaat???, or Much ado about almost nothing

Something is rotten in the state of communication.

Three times in one day -- twice in print and once on the radio -- I encountered ignorance in our midst.

As one who spent many years editing other people's work, I was definitely irked.

Let me explain.

In our county's weekly newspaper, The Cherokee Ledger (there's a daily paper as well, The Cherokee Tribune, but it costs money and the Ledger is free), I read two separate sentences in a lengthy story about a woman who is seeking political asylum in the U.S. that stopped me cold:

1. "In Venezuela, [the woman] voted against Hugo Chavez and her name is listed on a blacklist as a trader," the [family] said." (emphasis mine)

2. [Her husband] said, "The other reason it's dangerous is she is a Venezuelan (ex-patriot) who's lived in the U.S. for fifteen years. If she's deported, she most likely won't make it out of the airport." She most likely will be picked up by the military police, kidnapped, tortured or killed, [her husband] said. "We simply cannot send [her] back to Venezuela , because she will die," he said. (emphasis mine)

In spite of the newspaper reporter quoting -- QUOTING -- the family and the husband as saying those things, I'm as sure as the day is long that the words "trader" and "ex-patriot" never left their lips. The words the reporter or the editor back at the office missed, mes amies, are obviously traitor and Venezuelan expatriate, and the parentheses were definitely the result of wrong-headed thinking. That last clause is an example of the pot calling the kettle black.

Lovers of the English language around here live in a constant state of consternation. My teeth ache from being clenched so much.

This post has been in draft status for so long that I have forgotten the third example that I heard on the radio. If I remember it, you'll be the first to know.

<b> Mundane is also a word</b>

My blogger friend Rachel Phillips is currently in the midst of a series of posts (three so far) about a trip she took with her friends Liz...